Tag Archives: #photoblog

Stepping out in Paris

What takes approximately 106500 steps and four days (it was all the time I had) to explore?

I’m sure there are many answers to that question but on this occasion the correct answer is Paris.

I could wax lyrical here about every last second of the trip, but I’ll spare you that level of detail and share the edited highlights with you and a few of the several hundred photos I took as the Big Green Gummi Bear, and I meandered the rues and boulevards of Paris.

This short break was planned and booked as a “once in a lifetime” experience so we didn’t scrimp on anything. Life is for living and after the delights of the past two years, we decided that we deserved the five-star experience.

We arrived in the city mid-afternoon on Monday and checked into our hotel on Rue Scribe. It was ideally situated for exploring the city so once we’d freshened up, we headed out to explore and set off in search of the Seine. Seemed like a good place to start.

It only took us a few minutes, after an initial wrong turn, to reach Place de la Concorde, which was to be one of our main landmarks for the duration of our stay. There’s a huge gold topped Egyptian obelisk in the centre of Place de la Concorde that sits on the former site of the guillotine!

We crossed Pont de la Concorde and wandered along the left bank of the Seine towards the Eiffel Tower. So many bridges! We didn’t want to walk too far and crossed back via Pont de l’Alma (I think) then meandered back through Place de la Concorde, up Rue Royale and along the boulevard back to the hotel.

To keep things simple for our first night, I’d pre-booked a table at the Hard Rock Café for dinner. The meal and cocktails were great but to be honest, our table wasn’t ideally situated for seeing the HRC’s memorabilia. We were seated in a crowded corner, and I had a view of a naked Frank Zappa sitting on the loo for the evening. I’ll confess I may have splurged a little in the rock shop on the way out.

Tuesday was our first full day of sight-seeing. We’d decided to visit one or two things/places a day to allow sufficient time to fully appreciate them. At least that was the plan. The Palais Garnier, the opera house across the street from the hotel, was our first stop. I’d booked a guided tour for us, and it was well-worth it to learn the history of this stunning theatre. (I’ll most likely write more about this in a future blog – you have been warned.) The Palais Garnier is stunning inside and steeped in history. It was also the opera house that inspired the story/musical/film Phantom of the Opera. We never saw the Phantom; his seat was empty.

After a long walk through the twisting streets, we found ourselves in the Montmartre district of the city. Our destination was the most visited monument in Paris – Sacre-Coeur. If only I’d realised that reaching it meant climbing as many stairs! I was in need of oxygen before I reached the wide staircase leading up to the church itself. The views of the city made it all worthwhile; the stained glass of Scare-Coeur also made it worthwhile. We realised as we entered the building that you could also climb up to the dome for a mere 7 Euros each. That’s a climb that’s not for the fainthearted or the claustrophobic! 292 narrow, steep, spiral stone stairs take you up to the dome. I don’t often experience feelings of claustrophobia but by the last fifty steps I thought I was going to die! The walls were closing in on me (no idea if it does actually get narrower but it felt tighter), my heart was pounding out of my chest, I felt clammy, and my legs were like jelly. Thank God there was a stone bench to sit on at the top.

The views out over the entire city from such a high vantage point were breathtaking. You could see for miles!

Fortunately, the climb back down was considerably easier!

Wednesday saw us up and out early for a 10:15am rendezvous with our tour guide. Again, we headed to Place de la Concorde then through the Jardin des Tuileries to meet our tour guide at the Arc de Triumph Carousel. If you ever intend to visit the Louvre museum, our destination for the day, can I strongly recommend booking a guided tour. When we arrived, less than an hour after the museum opened for the day, the queues outside the pyramid entrance stretched for miles. Our lovely guide, Alexandra, by-passed those, allowing us to enter via one of the other underground entrances then escorted us through the crowds pointing out the key exhibits of the museum, as well as giving us a history lesson of the building itself. The Louvre is vast! We only saw a tiny portion of it. I’d have loved to stay and explore some more but the Big Green Gummi Bear was bored so we left about an hour after our tour ended.

We crossed the river to the left bank again then meandered out towards Notre Dame. Its currently impossible to get near it due to the ongoing restoration work. We meandered around Ile de la Cite before crossing Pont Neuf and heading back to the hotel to get ready for our “big night out”.

Showered and changed, we grabbed a taxi to take us back towards Montmartre and our destination for the evening – Moulin Rouge. We had an amazing evening being wined and dined in VIP style before enjoying the ninety-minute show “Feenie”. Yes, its all as glitzy as you’d imagine, complete with can-can girls. Incredible food, spectacular show, charming waiter (could have happily brought him home) and an altogether unforgettable evening. Worth every Euro.

Thursday was our last full day in the city (“whew”, my wee feet cried!) We had one final tour left – a trip to the summit of the Eiffel Tower. Again, we meandered through Place de la Concorde to the left bank, through the Invalides area of the city to Parc du Champs-Mars in front of the Eiffel Tower. We met up with our guide and again our pre-booked tickets allowed us to skip the lengthy queue. Security checks are really tight here! We took the lift to the second level where our guide escorted us to each of the four sides of the tower, telling is about its history and what you could see from the view. The guided tour ended there, and we then joined the queue for another lift to take us to the summit. (Tickets to the summit are restricted in number.) Thank God it didn’t involve climbing any stairs as my calves and thighs hadn’t quite recovered from visiting Sacre-Coeur. Apart from incredible views, we found a champagne bar at the summit. Well, it would have been rude not to…when in Paris and all that…

Once we descended the tower (we walked down the stairs from level two) we meandered past the Trocadero and up towards the Arc de Triumph. The rush hour traffic around it was insane! The queues to visit the arc were a mile long so we appreciated it from a distance before walking the length of the Avenue des Champs-Elysees. Well, all tours of France end on the Champs-Elysees.

There’s so much of the city I’ve still to explore but our time had run out and all good things have to come to an end.

A bientot, Paris.

Meandering in Sun and Shadows

Sometimes you need to step into the shadows to appreciate the beauty in the sunshine.

Meandering After Dark

Sometimes you need to take time to meander and recharge those batteries and just chill for a bit.

Normal blog service will resume next week.

Chasing Fungi….

I’m no expert but I did survive my “toadstool” hunt the other day. Being a creature of habit, I tend to walk the same route after work most days. As I walked down the hill the other day I spotted some toadstools and decided to see how many I could find on my late afternoon meander. It was very much a “look don’t touch” search. Here’s what I found :

As summer departs….

There’s a certain stillness to the evenings now that summer is ebbing away. The air is cooler. The beach is quieter.

I use my daily meandering as time to think, time to reflect, time to daydream. It’s my “me time”.

Occasionally I’ll set myself a photo challenge as I’m wandering along, partly to give myself something to “focus” on.

Recently the challenge was “berries”

How many sleeps til summer returns?…….

Forest calm…or is it witchcraft?

Over ten years ago, a fortune teller caught me off guard and rather enthusiastically declared I had been a healing witch, a green forest dwelling witch, in a past life. I’ll not lie, that lady struck a few chords that night but that’s perhaps a story for another time. She also scared the hell out of me!

I’m not a big believer in having your fortune told. In fact, she was only perhaps the third or fourth “fortune teller” that I have ever had a conversation with, and it was only the second ever and, to date, last “reading” I’ve had. I had mis-understood what I was walking in on, and my guard was down. Her initial exuberant greeting rattled me, and my guard remained down while I was in her company.

She was adamant that I was a healer or had been in a past existence. She claimed I had lived in a forest and been well respected for my abilities as a green witch.

Well, if she says so….

Her words echoed back to me earlier this evening as I went for a walk with a friend through some local woodland.

It had been a long day. There’s a lot going on in my world just now and some of it was preying on my mind, leaving me feeling tense, more than a little sad and rather stressed out.

As we explored slightly off the beaten track, through some trees and woodland, I felt a weight lift and an air of calm descend. It was a noticeable shift in my energy. Definitely, a shift for the better. For the first time in a while, I felt at peace with myself.

Maybe the fortune teller from all those years ago was right….

What will you choose to do?

A few months ago, a close friend gave me a piece of advice . (I may have mentioned it on here before – can’t quite recall at this precise moment in time) Paraphrasing slightly, what they advised was to keep writing, keep taking lots of pictures, lie on the beach and stare at the sky. Basically- do more of what makes me happy.

Those words have echoed back at me regularly over the past 9/10 months and, wherever possible, they have been words to live by.

Taking time for yourself in this crazy world isn’t selfish. It’s called self-care. It’s essential.

So, what have I done?

Well, I’ve kept writing and typing Book Baby 7. I’m onto my second notebook and I’ve typed 10 000 words.

I’ve taken hundreds and hundreds of photos. Very few of these have people in them and, of late, there have been more than a few flowers. Here’s just one to give you a flavour ( absolutely no idea what kind of flower this is but I love it!)

I haven’t sat on the beach …yet…but I have walked it many many times over the months.

and I’ve stared up at the sky…

So, what have you done to make you happy?

Which path to choose?…..

While out meandering earlier, I was thinking about this week’s blog post and wondering what to write. You’ve probably noticed but its very rarely that these weekly posts are planned much ahead of them being posted.

The various paths and trails around me caught my eye……

How different would life be if a different path had been followed or explored?…. that’s definitely a thought for another day but here are a few of the options I passed along the way.

but this one is crying out to be a story prompt……

Taking a moment to appreciate Spring’s beauty in all it’s colours (well some of them)

The dark days of winter are behind us (the temperatures are still lingering though) and the world is starting to look like a brighter place.

I’ve said many times on here that I’m a creature of habit and, much as I love going for a walk at the end of a busy day to clear the “work stuff” from my head to make room for the “creative stuff”, I do tend to walk the same routes. However, as Spring moves towards Summer, these familiar routes are forever changing.

How?

The flowers are all starting to bloom and their colours make it a rainbow road instead of a grey one. Don’t believe me? Here, take a look for yourself..

Let’s make a wish that, when it arrives, Summer is a long hot colourful one.

Sometimes you just need to hit || and watch the world go by….

Recharging the “creative batteries”. Normal blog nonsense will resume next week. For now though, let’s just sit back and enjoy the view.